tv To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe PBS September 29, 2012 11:30am-12:00pm PDT
this week on to the contrary: first, little girls and big guns. then, bias against women in science. behind the headlines: bpa, a chemical used in plastic that's everywhere and raising health concerns. >> hello, i'm bonnie erbe. welcome to to the contrary, a discussion of news and social trends from diverse perspectives. up first, tweeting firestorm. gop vice presidential candidate paul ryan generated controversy this week when he stopped off from his campaign to buy hunting gear for his 10-year-old daughter. the avid hunter said his daughter is ready to go hunting for the first time.
he bought her a rifle for christmas last year. ryan fans banded together on twitter to show their second endment support by posting pictures of their daughters shooting all types of guns, ranging from pistols to semi-automatic weapons. the informal girls with guns campaign had hundreds of fans posting stories and pictures to twitter and other social networking sites. but not everyone is all smiles. some parents voiced concern about putting guns in the hands of children. >> so congresswoman, norton, will this help lower the coveted women wrote to the romney/ryan ticket. >> all i can say, boonie, if you will forgive me, is that his best shot? [ laughter ] >> that's a good one. >> it may help in his like built nesome parts of this nation but at the end of the day, women care about the economy, jobs and government spending and they
will capture the vote on some of those issues. >> we have consensus. i think it will motivate the base which i think is a strategy of the republican party but it n't close the gap. >> we are all in agreement. this won make or break the election of the romney/ryan ticket. it's about the economy and other issues that are more important. >> if it's supposed to -- and you're right, it's a base motivator but if it's supposed to be a base motivator and the polls show romney really falling behind at this point, is it going to help? >> i don't finish she falling behind. there are so many polls out there that you can look at. but it really -- >> most recent abc news, washington post, and those kind of polls have shown us is that activityically significant gap andn the battle ground states, it's even worse like in ohio. all of a sudden they were neck-and-neck and a few months ago, romney was ahead and obama is 6 or 7 points ahead. >> you have to look at enthusiasm in those numbers and i think that is where they are
aiming for. pun intended. it's to keep those enthusiasm numbers high and they are very high. they are high or about at the point you want them the week or two before the election. they are that high. and i think ryan did this, i don't finish it was a political stunt as much as it was him showing his personal side of who he is and he's a family man and he is an outdoors man too. >> i have to say this. i know gun control has not been a big issue in this campaign because i have to say obama has not really taken on the issue because the concern with the base but i was looking at a report by the children defense fund, they used the latest data on kids who have died of gun injuries. 5,740 kids have died because of gun injuries. for between 2008 and 2009, at the latest data. so i just want to put this issue on the table because there is another side to the debate about gun control and i wish we had a
serious discussion about it. >> while i certainly said usually guns killed by guns it's accidental and a lot of times it's because the parents aren't being responsible and most instances they are illegal guns in the household and children are getting access to them. so there is a whole layer of things that have to be addressed. with regards to mr. ryan and going outside with his daughter, that's great. he loves his daughter and wants to have fun with her. but i don't think that's the issue in terms of election and whether or not that's going to make or break their campaign. it really isn't. >> and those of us who are for gun control -- these are children being taught how to use a gun and these are children who come from hunting families. it's different from the kind of gun control people like me who live in big cities see. and i don't want to get like the tea party, if anything i'm
against it. if you're from a hunting family, if boys would be taught and these pictures are of girls being taught. >> but let me just say again, pun intended, hunting is a dying sport in this country. as we urbanize. the data show fewer and fewer -- first of all there are fewer places to hunt because they are all getting developed and certainly -- remembery you have to drive hours of stees get to places that are remote ough -- my poi is, will this be a motivator for more moms or turn offs to more moms -- i have to imagine, i don't have dataa this point, i know hunting is shrinking and many articles have been written about that. but is this a turn off or a turn on to moms? the women's vote? i have to say you are an expert. so you deal with this issue and you comp part mentallize the
issues. for me as your average citizen, guns and it triggers all sorts of emotions. let's go back to the election. again it will motivate the base. and it's clear to me that they are stalking this strategy that if we motivate our base we suppress the democratic vote, we can thin election. i'm with you, bonnie, the numbers are not working in the direction of romney and i'm surprised that they not shifting at all. they continue working the base, working the base to interview with mitt romney. mitt romney is saying we have -- ambulance will come and take to you emergency room hospital. romney an expert in health care policy. he reformed health care in the stays of massachusetts. he is not ignorant. he is talking to his base. so far i don't think it's working. >> i want to you make the argument -- . [ multiple speakers ] -- back to the girls with guns. is that an argument for the women's vote. >> i don't think it's a real issue for women so much.
but you know, i'm a farm and ranch girl and a grew up in a family that did hunt and i had a gun when i was in my single-digits back in the day and was taught how to shoot and taught about how to treat a gun and how to respect and things like that. i think that's important. and i think it's an important place our culture we have these different activities that take place. so -- >> i was going to say, you have to kind of divvy up the goods. of course those in hadn'ting families and live in route i can't recall, they think it's great he is getting this kid out there and that's of the wonderful. the other side of the coin is i think moms might be supportive if they feel he is being attacked for doing -- in other words a woman who may not -- a mom who night not be a hunter may say this poor guy is trying to do something in the family line of things he does with his daughter. >> let's get more specific. are you talking about moms who are based republican party moms? >> i'm also talking
about -- republican anyway or are you talking some form or part of democratic moms or independent voter moms? >> i don't know how to break it down -- >> i'm just asking would this appeal to other than the base? >> i think if she attacked enough it's good. the issue of the gun, of the rifle and hunting itself, i don't think it necessarily draws the one side or the other. there are democrats and republicans who hunt. however, i think with regard to him being attacked or criticized maybe is a better word, they think might draw more not necessarily votes but sympathy that this guy is doing what he would normal doe if he wasn't running for vice president. >> i go back to congresswoman norton's point. if that's the best they can do -- they have a gap for real reasons because of economic agenda is not addressing women's concerns and because they are
standing on reproductive issue that is are not resolved. that's why they are not getting women votes and all they have is i'm going take my 10-year-old hunting? that's why it can backfire. >> i do want to get back to you and request why? 3, 4 months ago a lost people would have called this election for romney. just a few weeks ago, it kind of evened up and just in the last couple of weeks, it has -- you know, not only is president obama pulling ahead, but senate candidates, a lot of people thought no chance. tammy baldwin, clair mccastle, go down the line and now they are not talking so much about the republicans winning back the senate but in some circles, i heard talk of democrats taking back the house. >> not going to take back the house. let's look. so we had the primaries at the beginning of the year. that was about a whole host of candidates fighting it out between themselves. romney was really not ahead during the summer. he was making this race tighter.
that's what happens over the course of the summer. then have you conventions where both parties get to see. romney -- >> virtually no bump in the obama -- got a huge bump. >> do you think he's going to get a bump when you have a democratic convention that starts basically hours afterwards? i don't know if bumps exist anymore. look to the bumps -- >> for obama though. >> but that bump is already coming down. and look at the bump we got for killing osama bin laden. that bump was gone like. this i don't know if bumps really exist for that long anymore because we are such a 24-hour -- >> quickly. >> on this -- i think that we have 39 days out and you saw a bump from the president's convention and you have romney making mistakes. if you look behind the numbers, if you think he can lead, romney still has a shot at this. >> quickly. motivating his base because that's all that is left. and frankly -- >> [ indiscernible ] that that's right. i don't write that off.
we still have to contend with a pile of money they going to pour out at the end and we still have to contend with voter id. >> let us know what you think about this. please follow me on twitter @bonnieerbe. from girls with guns to biased science professors. despite years of fighting gender bias in the sciences, a new study by researchers at yale says science professors at american universities regard female undergraduates as less competent than male students. the researchers analyzed responses from professors who were asked to evaluate an application from a rent graduate seeking a laboratory manager position. this fictitious applicant was portrayed as promising but not stellar. in half the descriptions, the applicant was named john, the other half, jennifer. on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being highest, professors gave john an average
score of 4 for competence but gave jenifer a 3.3. john was also seen more favorably as someone they might hire and offer a higher salary. the study found female professors to be just as biased against women. >> so after 20-30 years of pushing to get to advance women and women making advancements in college education, in even doctors biology, chemistry, education. you're still seeing this bias in the sciences. are we ever going to overcome it? >> interestingly enough it turns out at yale, they have some of the higher numbers for women in the stem program. 39-46% of their women or of their students in that program are female and i think last year they had around 40 something percent graduation rate where the national average is 38%. what bothers or concerns me with this is some of this is still unfortunately, biased and
prejudices. both from men and women. and that's really human nature and how do we get beyond that? because i think part of it, you see with the study that some women graded men higher and that's because they thought the guy was really more qualified or are you afraid you might lose your position? on the other side of that coin is where men, the bias is that do you want to keep an old boy's network or open up for women? so the other thing that i think we are working on but need to work hard ser to encourage our young women to be more aggressive in terms of going after these positions because i think societally we teach women to be docile and nice and friendly. but it's a doing eat dog out there and you have to be more aggressive. >> look, suppose something we don't know from the study, suppose the girls were a little less aggressive than the men, you know, that's why you need a female professor. this is not only --
>> but the women -- >> that's why it was shocking that they would not identify with these girls -- that they wouldn't see themselves in these girls as they were trying to become scientists. and then i'd have to look into themselves and ask themselves, have you absorbed male notion so dopily that you each had absorbed their discrimination. >> and i think that is exactly what some of the women were saying. some of the faculty that did this, they became aware of their own prejudice they were not aware. so if i want to see -- fe we can see a simple lining in this report which got a lot of dissemination, which i'm glad is an education process, because i think the professors thought there were no bias. and now there were that their bias so they have to be more careful when they look at this application and when they are looking at women applicant who might be biased, am i biased or fair? and it's a process.
it's a process and i tnk it's an important part of that process. >> and i go with you. a lot of that is human nature and we have this bias in the board room to be this bias with ceo. we have a bias here in washington, d.c., even on capitol hill. i mean, women, you're a trailblazer. women are still trying it make their place this world and still tries to get that same respect and try to get the same amount of pay. i mean, president obama did sign the lily led better act into law but even the president pays women less than men. even the senate pays women less than it does men. so practice what you preach. this say problem we have to get over. >> but that's men doing it. and the problem with this study is -- >> so you think it's okay because approximate the obama does it? >> wait a minute. what are you talking about? i'm talking about men versus women. and we had assumed that if women were in charge that that would effect other women and to find that at least in this aspect it
does not, ought to call for some soul-searching on the part of women. i'm not going to excuse it fo a moment. if it were a man, i'll tell you, we have seen that they reach out and mentor young men more easily than young women and we have been critical of that. >> go and look at the senate payroll. all the women senators, they have the same problem. it's a problem. >> and unfair. >> unfair. >> it definitely goes back to character. i totally support -- we need to reach inside ourselves as a former law professor. i know i made my way, not just for female students, both male and female stuents but particularly female students to encourage them to pursue certain areas like i'm a tax person and a lot of women don't go into the field of tax. so i think it's a whole bunch of issue that is you have to address. certainly we reaching back out and saying i made it so what can i do to help you? it's certainly part of that
process. >> or just teaching women to be more aggressive, to be more self congratulatory as a lot of men are. these characteristics that young women just haven't learned yet how to bargain, how to push, how to show themselves, is that part of it? >> the other aspect of this dentate that there were a lot of men trying to justify the discrepancy because of the abilities. women were less skillful in terms of math and sciences and now we see that the problem is the bias of the people doing the hiring. >> including the women. behind the headlines: a new study on bpa - a plastic additive found in some food packaging and many consumer goods. this week researchers reported more compelling evidence that bpa can disrupt women's reproductive system, alter chromosomes and cause birth defects. earlier this year another study linked fetal exposure to bpa with higher rates of breast cancer. to the contrary reports on
concerns about a host of other serious illnesses: bisphenol a, better known as bpa. bpa is a synthetic chemical similar to the hormone estrogen. bpa is most widely known for its use, now largely banned, in baby bottles. but it's in most consumer goods. >> just one word. >> yes, sir. >> are you listening? >> yes, sir. >> plastics. even the producers of the 1967 movie the graduate had no idea how ubiquitous plastics, and later bpa, would become. >> chemists in the 1950s, found that if they linked these bpa molecules together, they could make a plastic. and now it's become this very large industry, something like
10 billion pounds of this chemical are made a year. >> its used in medical flasks, medical equipment, the resins that line today about 80% of food cans that are on super market shelves in america. or a dust that's painted on paper receipts that come out of atm machines. >> its an incredibly useful molecule but over the last 15 years we've discovered that its also tied to a wide range of adverse effects. >> there is a wealth of evidence linking bpa exposure to early puberty, prostate disease, breast cancer, and changes in brain chemistry, among other conditions. spontaneous miscarriage and downs syndrome rates may also rise after exposure to bpa.
bpa affects the endocrine system.a delicate, balanced system of glands and hormones that regulate such vital functions as body growth, response to stress, sexual development and behavior, production and utilization of insulin, rate of metabolism, intelligence and behavior, and the ability to reproduce. >> so one of the biggest problems with bpa is it acts like this sex hormone, estrogen. and when you're exposed to extra amounts of this, it can cause all kinds of diseases. it happens to be a sex hormone that's used in products, which is, from the perspective of someone who cares about public health, just bizarre. >> still, representatives of the
plastics industry and bpa producers continue to maintain it is safe at low doses. in march, the food and drug administration ruled that bpa is safe. it rejecd a petition by the tural resources defens council to ban it, saying more studies were needed. the fda declined an interview with to the contrary but released the following statement. "fda is constantly monitoring the science on the substances or products it regulates, including bpa. fda'fda's strategy to address concerns about bpa is founded on science; we have invested significant resources to research and review any and all scientific findings." >> the fda, the food and drug administration, can regulate chemicals that can get into our food. bisphenol a isn't only going into our food, in fact it's not considered a direct food additive. it's an indirect food additive, in that it makes its way into the food by leeching out of the containers that come in contact
with the food. and so the legislative authority isn't straight forward. >> as an indirect additive the fda is limited in its ability to regulate bpa. bpa is protected by its use in interstate commerce, making it difficult for the fda to restrict use. >> there is a lot of push-back from the chemical industry from the companies that are making these products that are convinced that they're safe at the levels that humans are exposed to, and they have their influence within government bodies, as much as do scientists or perhaps more have their influence. so a lot of different things need to be evaluated and weighed in making decisions and that's what has slowed processes down. >> while the fda has stalled action at the federal level, statand local governments as well as regulators in other nations have banned it. >> 11 states have passed legislation restricting the use
of bpa. and in virtually all of those states, there are additional attempts being made to further restrict bpa in essentially all kinds of food contact uses. canada has declared bisphenyl a a toxic chemical. it's restricted for use in china, some countries in south america, around the world. >> in science, nothing is black and white, cut everything falls at different gradations in studies from a variety of investigators from around the world are showing that bpa has these negative consequences. >> we can't wait another generation with chemicals like bisphenol a and the thalates and some of the other chemicals that are now a regular part of our lifestyle. they're in our home, they're in our automobiles, they're in all the equipment and toys children play with, sporting good equipment, they're in everything.
>> so what does it say about our government that places like china and canada and other countries have been able to ban bpa and we are still thinking about it? >> well, i would say the scientific data is very mixed. supposedly the studies they have done says that we process bpa quickly and the health impact is not conclues and i have that is the difficulty we are having with this issue. >> i'm throwing out my plastic containers and going back to mason jars. that frightens me they are not worried about it now and we have to keep looking. 10-20 years from now, we are talking about the next generation of children being born or not being born due to the side effects. >> so do you think the science is mixed? >> you can make the case because the fda says that it's exposed of is now this your body. i have to tell you, consumers have already gotten canned food
products to pull back. they are doing a better job in the fda. >> sorry, no time. >> that's it for this edition of "to the contrary." please follow me on twitter @bonnieerbe and @tothecontrary. and check out our website where the discussion continues. whether you agree or think to the contrary, please join us next time. >> funding for "to the contrary" provided by: the cornel douglas foundation. committed to encouraging stewardship of the environment, land conservation, watershed protection and eliminating harmful chemicals. additional funding provided by: the colcom foundation, the wallace genetic foundation, and by the charles a. frueauff foundation. for a copy of "to the